The 29th anniversary of the catastrophic December 1988 earthquake in Armenia is the central theme of Thursday’s Armenian press commentary.
“Although many years have passed [since the earthquake] Armenia’s authorities have failed to solve the problem of homeless people in Gyumri,” writes “Zhoghovurd.” The paper notes that former President Robert Kocharian pledged to completely rebuild the earthquake zone by 2001 when he came to power in 1998. “Serzh Sarkisian has been promising to ‘overcome consequences of the earthquake’ since 2008,” it says.
“Aravot” reports that Gyumri’s controversial former Mayor Vartan Ghukasian has said that the authorities have not done enough for residents of Gyumri and other earthquake-ravaged areas. “Yerevan’s budget is 85 billion drams, while’s Gyumri’s only 3 billion drams,” he is quoted as saying.
Samvel Nikoyan, a senior lawmaker from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that the latest government data putting the poverty rate in the country at over 29 percent must not be seen as “sensational.” “The authorities are fully aware of the situation,” he says. “We ourselves speak up about that. We not only speak up but also show ways of improving the situation.” Nikoyan says that the current government is right to channel additional budgetary funds into capital projects, rather than pensions, public sector salaries or social programs.
“Zhamanak” wonders if President Serzh Sarkisian will shed more light on his political future after Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed on Wednesday that he will again run for reelection next year. “Just minutes before the signing of the Armenia-EU agreement [in Brussels on November 24] Serzh Sarkisian stated that he himself has no idea about his post-presidential role,” the paper says. “Will Putin’s statement help Serzh Sarkisian envision his role after the end of his presidency?”